Weeping Pittosporum (K Stockwell)
This page outlines a motoring tour around Moama, observing indigenous plants growing in the wild.
There are some notes on other places worthy of a visit, including the Euroa arboretum and an arboretum at an entrance of Gulpa Island north of Mathoura.
As far as plants of the Bendigo region are concerned, there is a separate page describing some of the Whipstick plants.
One reason for growing indigenous plants is that indigenous plants have evolved in the area and, once established, most can cope with hot summers and dry periods. Many are ideal for home gardens; many are ideal for planting on farms.
Planting indigenous plants helps provide habitat and food for native animals, including birds.
An indigenous plant is a native plant but a native plant is not necessarily indigenous to a particular area. When some natives have been introduced to other parts of Australia they have become weeds. For instance, Cootamundra Wattle is not a problem around Cootamundra but in this region it is regarded as a weed. Similarly the Blue Bell creeper, Sollya heterophylla, from south-western Western Australia is regarded as a weed in the eastern States of Australia and is, in places, almost impossible to contain.
Fortunately, there are several indigenous plant nurseries in the region. One of the biggest and best as far as the home gardener is concerned is Goldfields Revegetation Nursery in Mandurang, a suburb of Bendigo. McKindlay's Nursery north-west of Moama specialises in farm trees. Another nursery west of Echuca, Ko-warra Transplants, specialises in native grasses, including some which may be suitable for lawns.
With severe water restrictions, many residents of the region are turning to plants which require less water and which can survive dry periods. Once established, many indigenous plants perform well and it is the intention of these pages to help promote indigenous plants suitable for garden cultivation.
A number of excellent books have been produced about indigenous plants. Some of these are reviewed in the books section. The City of Greater bendigo and Bendigo Plant Group have produced a particularly good handbook about Bendigo's indigenous plants suitable for garden cultivation.
A mistake that many people make is planting trees and shrubs which become too large for the garden in which they are planted. Some are planted far too close to boundary fences and a lot of money may have to be spent pruning or removing them. Some people plant shrubs and trees far too close together.
With plantations, it is best not to plant shrubs and trees an equal distance apart in some sort of order. Because vehicles may be involved in ground preparation and maintenance, it is sometimes necessary to plant trees and shrubs in rows. But it is best to mix suitable species up and not be frightened to plant clumps of one species.
Care must be taken to plant sand-loving plants on sandy soil, clay-loving plants in clay areas and so on. Soil type, elevation and aspect must all be taken into consideration.
River Red Gum demands occasional flooding, Black Box can withstand a short, occasional flood, but some other trees do not like flooding at all.
The following is a quote by Tim Flannery:
seems to rouse the passions of some Australians so much as disparaging
roses, lawns, plane trees and the like. Yet I really do think that they
are a blot on the landscape. I used to joke that I'd shout beer all
round at my local pub the day someone brought me a plane tree leaf that
an insect had actually taken a bite out of. The fact is, that as far
as Australian wildlife goes, plane trees are so useless that they might
as well be made of concrete. Australia is home to 25,000 species of
plants, as opposed to Europe's 6,000 or 7,000. Surely amongst that lot
we can find suitable species that will provide shade, and food for butterflies
and native birds as well. To be honest, there is another reason I dislike
many introduced plants. If gardens are a kind of window on the mind,
I see in our public spaces a passion for the European environment that
indicates that we are still, at heart, uncomfortable in our own land.
If we can see no beauty in Australian natives, but instead need to be
cosseted in pockets of European greenery, can we really count ourselves
as having a truly sustainable, future adapted to Australian conditions?' ~ Tim Flannery, scientist,
conservationist and author.
Growing native helps keep our environment
in balance. Roger Oxley gives the example of boxthorn. 'The white
flowers of native blackthorn (Bursaria) attract certain parasitic wasps
in late summer. These wasps lay their eggs in, and subsequently kill,
the grubs of Christmas beetles that can cause terrible damage, and even
death, to our gum trees This rather ordinary, straggly shrub also plays
a vital role in the survival of Australia's rarest butterfly, the Bathurst
copper butterfly, which relies on a small black ant for care for its
caterpillars. The ant, in turn, depends on the boxthorn. Some birds
use the boxthorn for protection from predators.
Books on native plants
Nathalia Wildflower Group, Flora of the Nathalia District and Barmah Forest. This book, partly funded by Parks Victoria, has been reprinted. It is
an invaluable guide to the plants of the region and is equally useful
in the Millewa Forest, on the NSW side of the border. Being a pocket
guide, many plants are, e.g. Banksia, are excluded.
M Driver &M Porteners: The
Use of Locally Native Trees and Shrubs in the Southern Riverina,
(available, possibly free of cost, to locals by phoning Greening Australia,
PO Box 1010 DENILIQUIN 2710 on 058 813 429) is an outstanding colour
booklet produced for land holders by Landcare, Greening
Australia and Royal Sydney Botanic
G.M. Cunningham et al: Plants of Western NSW, (Inkata Press). This book is certainly no pocket guide but an outstanding and comprehensive work of several hundred pages. Like the Nathalia Wildflower Group's work, this guide features coloured photographs of the plants listed.
Fay Boyle, Frances Cincotta, Dianne Davies et al: Indigenous Plants of Bendigo ~ a gardener's guide to growing and protecting local plants. First published in 2004, this guide was produced by the City of Bendigo in conjunction with the Bendigo Plants group. It is now available on line and can be downloaded from the City of Greater Bendigo web site.
cover the plants of the Bendigo Whipstick and the Box-ironbark Forests
found to the south of the region.
The VNPA has published a useful guide
to the plants of the box-ironbark forests.
Catalogue of Goldfields Revegetation Nursery. Goldfields Revegetation Nursery, Tannery lane Mandurang, has an extensive range of local plants listed
in its catalogue and sells a selection of reference books. Well worth
a visit if you live in the region. A colour coding system in the catalogue
distinguishes between Riverina (Northern Plains), Goldfields, and Central
Uplands plants. Open 7 days. www.goldfieldsrevegetation.net.au
and Leigh Clapp The New Native Garden: Designing with Australian
Plants (New Holland 1999). This book suggests ways in which
native plants can be used as part of a designed garden rather than as
an imitation of natural bush. Indigenous plants can be used along with
other native and even introduced plants.
book, The Australian Garden (Blooming Books 2002), also
makes suggestions on designing a garden using a blend of local and non-local
Ian Lunt, Tim Barlow and James Ross have a book, Plains wandering describing some grasses, herbs and other small plants found on the northern plains.
Leon Costermans has authored a couple of books on the plants of south-eastern Australia. His pocket guide Trees of Victoria and adjoining areas is a helpful reference.
National Botanic Gardens
Native Plants Society
Includes links to regional and State groups of the Society
Australian Native Plants Society's Photo Gallery
Goldfields Revegetation, Bendigo (Mandurang)
Growing Australian Native Plants: Propagation and Cultivation
Indigenous Plants of Bendigo
Several pdf files can be downloaded from this local government site
Ko-warra Native Grass Nursery, Echuca
Native Plant Holdings
Operators of Mildura Native Nursery
Neangar Native Nursery, Eaglehawk
Revegetation and Forestry Plants
Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne
Includes a section on 'The Australian Garden'
Suntuff Native Plants, Bullengarook
Site includes a photo gallery
northern Victoria and the Southern Riverina
Observing indigenous plants
Some places to visit
Adapted over thousands of years to withstand high temperatures and droughts, the plants of northern Victoria and the southern Riverina provide habitat for native birds and insects. Local plants
are usually resistant to local insect pests and may therefore
be easier to grow. Furthermore, local plants cannot become garden
escapes, environmental weeds, which may be costly to remove from
riversides and bushland. An aim of this page is to inspire you to travel about the region to discover and gain a greater appreciation of its flora. We start with a drive around the outskirts of Moama. After that, there is a list of some other places to consider visiting.
Botanists sometimes change the scientific (botanical) names of plants and so some of the names given on this page may be out of date. Name changes are a problem for those who write plant books and that is why such books sometimes have a CD with information about name changes and supplementary information.
You will notice that there is an empty button. Do you know of any place in the region with a good display of native plants which is worth mentioning on this page? Let's fill the empty button.
A motoring plant-tour around Moama
you live in, or are visiting, the Echuca-Moama area, armed with a few native plant books and
a road map, take a drive around the outskirts of Moama in search remnant native
vegetation. The following notes are based on notes prepared several years ago by John McKindlay
of Riverine Nursery, Perricoota Road, Moama.
This drive involves many kilometres of unsealed road and is best done in dry weather. There are no service stations en route so sufficient fuel will be needed for about 40 kilometres.
Recommended is a map such
as Moama 1:50,000 (Central Mapping Authority NSW) or CFA Rural
Directory - Region 20 or a road map of Murray Shire.
Perhaps the best reference book for this tour is Plants of Western New South Wales.
To assist navigation, the route has been modified and the instructions made clearer (January 2010).
Our journey commences
at Horseshoe Lagoon Regional Park (Moama Wetlands) just over the border from Echuca. There is a car park on the bridge side of an elevated wooden walkway. If you cross the bridge from Echuca, it is necessary to cross the railway line near the bowling club and immediately turn right.
The dominant tree alongside the Murray River and around the wetlands is River Red Gum. Silver Wattle, Dwarf Cherry (Exocarpus stricta) and other shrubs form an understorey. It is worth walking along the elevated Red Gum walkway to the Murray River and then alongside the river upstream. A variety of shrubs can be observed, including some bush peas. In Spring, there is sometimes a good display of Everlastings, including Clustered Everlasting.
Just off the main track, glimpses can be obtained of a wetland depression (pictured below) which is fed by town runoff water. Some waterbirds make use of the Red Gums in the wetland not just to perch but to support a small rookery.
Away from the river and lagoons, Black Box and, on higher ground, Grey Box are the dominant trees. Black Box has dark limbs and branches. With Grey Box, however, the ends of branches are whitish, much lighter in colour than the main trunk. Gold-dust Wattle is the most common wattle now.
Mistletoes grow on many of the trees. If there are dead branches at the top of a tree, this indicates it is under stress. A healthy tree has a covering of leaves right to the very top.
There are weeds in this reserve. Many of the weeds are garden escapes.
It is easy to spend over an hour in this reserve. Bird watchers have often observed well over 40 different species in less than two hours. To see 50 different bird species is not uncommon. Listen and watch out for Whistling Kites. When one appears, notice how all the other birds, after a warning call has been made, fall silent until the threat has passed.
From the Horseshoe Lagoon (Moama Wetlands) car park, drive under the bridge to Blair Street, go straight ahead at the roundabout of the Cobb Highway and continue driving along Blair Street which, at the edge of town, becomes Barnes Road. Drive along Barnes Road on the north-western side of the railway line.
Once out of the town, observe the strip of bushland between the railway
line and Barnes Road. A number of interesting plants grow here.
This vegetation should be protected because this collection of
plants is unmatched in the region. This is one of the few places around where Kangaroo Grass survives. Popular with cattle, Kangaroo Grass (pictured below) has been eaten
out elsewhere or replaced with introduced pasture. Prolonged drought has also had a devastating impact on this plant. Can you see any surviving specimens? Unfortunately, much of the vegetation between the road and the railway line has recently been butchered by authorities, many of the trees having been decapitated.
Other plants you are likely to observe alongside the railway line include:
Drooping Chinese Scrub (Cassinia arcuata).
Contrary to popular belief, this plant is native... and it is
a good colonising plant, protecting other species until they
can become established. If a fire occurs, it burns fiercely, however.
Native Black Thorn or Sweet Bursaria (Bursaria spinosa) provides cover and food for Superb Fairy Wren, Red-browed Finch
and other small birds. It harbours a wasp which attacks Christmas
Beetles and so it is desirable to protect this shrub. It has prickles but is not a problem like the introduced Box Thorn.
Spreading Flax Lily (Dianella admixta) (Formerly Dianella
revoluta) is a small plant with sword-like leaves.The leaves resemble those of Agapanthus, a widely-grown introduced weed. But, unlike the large blue blooms of the Agapanthus, the flowers of Flax Lillies are small.
Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha), Australia's floral
Mallee Bush Pea (Eutaxia diffusa) is one of our "egg
and bacon" plants. The leaves of this small shrub fold
up in times of drought so that it can conserve moisture.
Sugarwood (Myoporum platycarpum)
Showy Parrot Pea (Dillwynia sericea)
Mallee Wattle (Acacia montana) which is more common in the
Mallee than it is in this region.
Gold Dust Wattle (Acacia acinacea) which is a great small wattle
which is most-attractive when in flower.
After about 3.5km from the roundabout in Moama, turn
left (west) on to Milgate's Lane.
This road links Barnes Road to the Cobb
Highway and the roadsides are of high conservation value. Regeneration
over the past few years has been very good (apart from the area
of ploughed roadside and roadside dump site). Using a native plant book if appropriate, see how many of the following plants you can observe
growing alongside the road here:
River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) This type of gum tree demands occasional flooding. If it has not received floodwaters for some time, this species of gum tree becomes stressed and may die. There have been floods where Red Gums grow....so don't build a house amongst Red Gums unless you are prepared to be flooded out!
Black Box (Eucalyptus largiflorens) The dark bark extends to the very ends of branches. Despite years of drought, this species has survived reasonably well, especially where it has benefited from some runoff from road surfaces. It can withstand, and even enjoys, short periods of flooding. This species grows best if wattles (nitrogen fixers) are growing alongside them.
Lignum (Muehlenbeckia florulenta). Lignum is a reed-like plant which you probably would not dream of planting in your home garden. It prefers areas subject to inundation. Many farmers deliberately try to remove it. Yet it is of immense ecological value, a very important part
of wetlands ecosystems. For example, it provides cover for wrens and other small bush birds.
Western Black Wattle (Acacia hakeoides) ~ a small tree, Acacia hakeoides is an excellent, long-lived
garden plant, specimens of which can be purchased from native plant nurseries such as those listed in the side panel.
Boobialla (Myoporum montanum)
Ellangowan Poison Bush (Eremophila deserti)
Emu Bush (Eremophila longifolia) ~ emu bushes deserve
to be in more local gardens but have, alas, never achieved the
fame they so rightly deserve. The good news is that more nurseries and market stalls now sell Eremophilas. Do yourself a favour and plant
Clustered Everlasting (Helichrysum semipapposum) ~ everlastings
colour our local forests in spring. They aren't just found in
Western Australia or in the deserts!
Ruby Saltbush ~a prostrate plant with fleshy bluish-coloured leaves and small red berries, favoured by such bush birds as thornbills, Diamond Firetail and Red-browed Finch. Often dismissed as a weed, this plant is worthy of place
in any local native garden!
the wide roadside reserve(travelling stock route) where Milgate's Lane joins the Cobb
Highway. Few mobs of cattle travel the roadside these days and one result is good regeneration of trees and shrubs. There
are lots of young trees and shrub. You may wish to stop here for a few minutes.
Most of the regenerating trees are Box Trees. Can you tell if they are Black box or grey Box? Check the bark colour: remember, with Black Box the dark colour of the trunk extends to the very ends of the branches whereas the end branches of Grey Box are much lighter.
grows on some of the Box trees. There are lots of species of Mistletoe. Some Mistletoes have leaves which closely resemble those of their host. How many different kinds can you observe here and along Centre Road?
Turn north at the highway
and follow it for a few kilometres until the Centre Road intersection,
where the highway curves to the right.
Follow Centre Road to Ham Road (T intersection) and turn left (west) into Ham Road.
Along Ham Road, look for:
Weeping Pittosporum (Pittosporum angustifolium, formerly Pittosporum phillyreoides) ~ more attractive that the feral Pittosporum found in many local
gardens. Weeping Pittosporum tends to sucker, forming a compact clump. The fruit (berries) open and provide food for bush birds.
Western Black Wattle (Acacia hakeoides). Unlike some wattles, this species is long-lived but it can become 'woody' unless constantly lightly pruned. It does not respond well to heavy pruning.
Sugarwood (Myoporum platycarpum)
Desert Cassia (Senna nemophila) ~ a hardy plant that
grows well in the home garden. It has yellow flowers over a long period. Dark seed pods cover the plant after flowering.
Bull Oak (Allocasuarina leuhmannii) ~ a great nitrogen
Miljee (aka Umbrella Wattle) (Acacia oswaldii)
Saltbush (Atriplex semiboccata)
Grey Box (Eucalyptus microcarpa)
Gold-dust Wattle (Acacia acinacea)
western end of Ham Road supports a surprising group of shrub species
not found in surrounding areas.
At the western end of Ham Road, turn left (south) at the T intersection onto Thyra Road and continue along Thyra Road for about two kilometres. Look for Caloola Road and turn right. Follow Caloola Road for about four kilometres. Look for McKindlay Road but stay on Caloola Road.
a good clump of Grey Box close to the McKindlay Road turnoff, followed by
scattered Bull Oak. There is then scattered Grey Box with scattered Western Black Wattle and Punty until Perricoota Road.
Before you reach Pericoota Road, however, look for Lang Road and drive along it for a few kilometres.
Turn into Lang Road.
Road you can see:
Myall (Acacia rigens)
Hooked Needlewood (Hakea tephrosperma)
Boree (Acacia pendola)
Do a U-turn and return to Caloola Road. Turn left at Caloola Road. Note the extensive plantings on sheep grazing land of Old Man Saltbush. This drought-tolerant plant can survive on salty land and sheep which graze on it produce meat which some restaurants are prepared to pay a premium price for.
Road to Perricoota Road and turn left. Follow Perricoota Road for a few hundred metres before turning toward the Murray River on one of several dirt tracks (the track to a boat ramp is the easiest for 2WD vehicles).
It is worth stopping for about an hour in the bushland between Perricoota Road and the Murray River ('The Five Mile' aka Moama State Forest), one of many places
where there is good regeneration because fewer mobs of cattle
use the stock routes these days. Here, apart from box, there is:
Acacia salicina (excellent timber tree),
Yarran (Acacia homalophylla) and
Moonah (Melaleuca lanceolata)
Once again, River Red Gum, Dwarf Cherry and Silver Wattle line the river.
On higher ground near Perricoota Road, Grey Box is the dominant tree and Gold-dust Wattle is a common shrub.
Within a fenced area, there is usually a good covering of Ruby Saltbush.
Return to Perricoota Road and drive toward Moama for about five kilometres. Look for McKindlay Road.
off Perricoota Road into McKindlay Road(either left or right). If you turn right (travel south) on McKindlay Road, you come to the Murray River and the entrance of Benarca State Forest (which is recommended to become a Regional Park).
Along McKindlay Road search for:
Drooping Cassinia (Chinese Scrub) (Cassinia arcuata)
Ruby Saltbush (Enchylaena tomentosa)
Creeping Saltbush (Atriplex semibaccata)
Wedge-leaf Hopbush (Dodonaea viscosa subsp cuneata)
Leafless Cherry (Exocarpus aphyllus)
Miljee (Acacia oswaldii)
Grey Box (Eucalyptus microcarpa)
Bull Oak (Allocasuarina luehmannii)
Gold-dust Wattle (Acacia acinacea)
email me, stocky at echuca dott net dot au, if you would like
to suggest improvements to the above instructions or if you come
across some good plants during the tour. KS.
Some other places where native plants can be observed
The banner photograph on this page is a view of an arboretum planted by members of the Southern Riverina Field Naturalists Club between Mathoura and Deniliquin alongside the Cobb Highway about a kilometre north of the Walliston Road intersection. Indigenous trees and shrubs have grouped according to their preferred soil type.
Members of the Southern Riverina Field Naturalists Club were also involved in the creation of an indigenous botanic garden, Blake Reserve, within the town of Deniliquin. The garden was created in a degraded area alongside a canal.; The canal has been widened so that it is now lake-like in appearance. The plants in the garden have to be tough as the plants do not appear to receive the benefit of artificial watering.
Prior to the year 2000 Olympic Games, members of Echuca Landcare Group planted several hundred indigenous shrubs and trees on the roadside verge of the Northern Highway north of the Echuca-Mitiamo Road intersection. Despite a long and prolonged drought, the shrubs and trees have grown well. The flowering wattles are particularly striking during early Spring.
Thousands of indigenous trees and shrubs have been planted alongside the Murray Valley Highway between Echuca and Cohuna, not only along the roadside but also on private and public land. The area where the highway crosses Mahers Creek north-west of Torrumbarry is a good example. Not only is there planting alongside Mahers Creek to its confluence with Gunbower Creek (Splatts Lagoon) but on a large privately-owned dairy farm. The plantings on the dairy farm helped offset the removal of many old Box Trees so that pivot irrigation could be used.
An area of cropping and sheep farms 35km north of Bendigo, and just north of the Kamarooka Forest, is located at the bottom of a wide but shallow basin. A salinity problem became evident in the mid 1950s. Hundreds of hectares lay bare and unproductive for about 50 years.
In 2004, the Northern United Forestry Group received funding from Landcare to establish a demonstration site on 40 hectares of severely salt-affected land. Within a few years, a salt wasteland was transformed and the carrying capacity increased several fold.
From time to time, the group holds a field day when members of the public can observe how the planting of indigenous shrubs and trees can lower a salty water table and increase the carrying capacity whilst, at the same time, providing potential future returns from agro-forestry.
Old Man Saltbush is the shrub of choice in the areas most severely degraded as a result of soil salinity.
The Superb Parrot is an endangered bird. To help ensure its survival, residents of the Yielema-Picola area have planted tens of thousands of indigenous shrubs and trees to help provide food and shelter for the parrots. Soon after the project began, an annual survey has occurred to help determine the number of Superb Parrots in the area. Simultaneously, a survey is held in the neighbouring Millewa National Park across the Murray River in New South Wales. Indications are that Superb Parrot numbers are holding steady and may be even increasing. More importantly, perhaps, a number of other bird species have benefited from the improved habitat and the spring time flowering adds colour and good ambience to what would otherwise be a flat, dull farming landscape.
Following the completion of a section of freeway, some Euroa residents were able to obtain permission to create an indigenous native garden on a site used by VicRoads during the construction of the freeway. The well-designed garden showcases a wide variety of indigenous plants and features an indigenous plant nursery.
The Whipstick in Greater Bendigo National Park has long been renowned for its wildflower display in Spring. The vegetation along Rifle Range Road was often outstanding. Prolonged drought and fuel-reduction burns by DSE have diminished the display. It will take several wet winters and absence of fuel-reduction burns to allow the area to recover. Whipstick plants are the subject of a separate page in this section.
Any of our local national parks, nature conservation reserves or regional parks is a good place to ob serve indigenous plants.
Victoria's Royal Botanical Gardens has an area at Cranbourne. The Cranbourne section features an Australian Garden as well as an area of indigenous bushland. Garden designers have been involved in designing this outstanding garden. Well worth a visit.
Click here to go to Echuca Landcare
Group's home page
here to go to Echuca and District BOCA home page